(March 6 Update)
It was a problem with CATS and the KIRIS assessments, and it looks like it’s now a problem with the state’s new Unbridled Learning school accountability program, as well.
Very simply, we cannot always trust what Unbridled Learning is telling us.
Case in Point: The Model Laboratory High School
In 2012 white students in Model Lab had a very good, 80.0 percent mathematics proficiency rate on the Algebra II End-of-Course assessment. That was 37.9 points ABOVE state average.
In 2013 that came totally unglued. Model Lab High’s Algebra II proficiency tumbled to only 34.0 percent, four points BELOW state average.
So, Model Lab High’s white math proficiency suffered a huge drop of 46.0 percentage points!
But, because Unbridled Learning averages a whole lot of different things together before it makes an accountability determination, the math disaster in Model Labs High was covered up by better performance in other areas and the school was awarded Unbridled Learning’s highest classification of “Distinguished” in 2013! In fact, Unbridled Learning told the parents of students in this school that the school ranked at the 96th percentile for performance among all the high schools in Kentucky! Parents got no clue from Unbridled Learning about Model Lab High’s mathematics collapse.
Model Lab High isn’t alone. The Somerset High School in the Somerset Independent School District saw a similar collapse in white math scores, tumbling from 73.0 to 32.2 percent proficiency between 2012 and 2013. Unbridled Learning still reported Somerset High was a “Distinguished” school in 2013 and ranked it in the 90th percentile for performance. Just like at Model Lab High, Somerset parents got no clue about the collapse of their school’s math performance.
Well, this just isn’t right. It’s clear that Unbridled Learning needs some fixes – NOW! Schools should not have really bad declines in key subjects like mathematics covered up by an accountability system that looks at a whole lot of interesting things but never makes important judgments about some of those things clearly being more important than others.